After being dumped from his ride with Haas CNC Racing at the end of last season Johnny Sauter will make a one-off return to the Sprint Cup ranks in this weekend's UAW-Dodge 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 29 year-old driver, who successfully guided the start-up #70 Haas CNC team into the top 35 in owner points last season before being fired in favour of veteran Jeremy Mayfield, will be charged with trying to qualify the famous #21 Wood Brothers Ford in place of Jon Wood.

Jon, the grandson of team co-owner Glen Wood, cited his current lack of experience with the Car of Tomorrow as his reason for stepping down, especially as the #21 is not among the list of teams guaranteed a starting place on the Las Vegas grid.

Sauter scored two top ten finishes for Haas CNC in 2007 and the team ended the year as the only 'new for 2007' operation to successfully retain a place in the top 35 in owner standings. However after a proposed move to a second car for Robby Gordon Motorsports fell through Sauter started 2008 with a Nationwide Series ride with Phoenix Racing and no Cup ride.

Although Bill Elliott will take the reigns of the #21 next weekend in Atlanta there may be future opportunities with the team later this year as Elliott is set to drive 17 of the 36 races with Wood and the equally inexperienced Marcos Ambrose set to share the car for the remaining 19.

After failing to qualify for the Daytona 500, the teams first absence from the '500 since 1962, Elliott rebounded in California with a 26th place finish on Monday. However Sauter will need to match that result at least in Vegas if the team is to make inroads into the top 35.


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